A Night Out to Meet the Neighbors

A Night Out to Meet the Neighbors

Service groups, activities fill South County hallways for Mount Vernon District Town Meeting.

Crowds jammed the hallways at South County Secondary School Thursday night, Sept. 14, but it wasn't students who filled those halls.

“I’m just interested in keeping up with what’s going on in the community,” said Karen Ryan, walking past tables filled with information on a plethora of services and groups in the southern part of the Mount Vernon District. “There’s a lot of very interesting information. I got some good reading materials.’

Ryan, a Laurel Hill resident and member of the Laurel Hill Community Association, was one of several hundred Mount Vernon District residents to attend a Town Hall meeting sponsored by Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon). Hyland hosts an annual meeting in the northern part of the district in February of each year, but this was the first time he offered one in the Lorton area in several years.

FOLLOWING A GENERAL welcome statement by Hyland, featured speakers for the evening included Fairfax County Executive Anthony Griffin, Col. Brian Lauritzen from Fort Belvoir to discuss the impending changes as a result of BRAC on Fort Belvoir and the Engineer Proving Ground. In addition, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Dale and School Board member Dan Storck (Mount Vernon) were on hand to discuss the upcoming boundary study at South County Secondary School, and representatives from the county’s Police and Fire and Rescue Departments spoke about the county’s safety and emergency preparedness.

While the presentations were going on in the school’s auditorium, the halls were lined with tables from agencies like Volunteer Fairfax, Fort Belvoir, the Lorton Arts Foundation, the Cold War Museum and Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, each offering information about upcoming events and plans for the future of the Lorton area.

Some residents said they were interested in attending the meeting to find out what was planned for their backyards.

Gloria Bannister, another Lorton resident, said she’s attended prior Town Hall meetings in Mount Vernon.

“You always get a lot of useful information at these meetings,” Bannister said. “There’s so many useful services in this area.”

Robin Savida, who works for Fairfax County’s Community and Recreation Services, said she’d just been transferred to the Lorton area and attended the meeting to learn more about her new territory.

“This is an awesome opportunity to find out what’s here,” she said. “The idea of this meeting intrigued me, to have all these different groups in one place. It’s definitely helped me.”

SPRINGFIELD RESIDENTS Donald Conners and his wife came down to the meeting to see how the changes at the Engineer Proving Ground because of BRAC will impact their lives.

A current proposal for the addition of 18,000 people to the EPG, where currenly only about 50 people work, includes the completion of the Fairfax County Parkway, a decade-old project that has met with a series of delays and disagreements among the Army, Environmental Protection Agency and Fairfax County officials.

“We live about a mile from the EPG. I don’t want an amusement park there,” Donald Conners said, referring to a possible interactive Army museum proposed for the EPG.

Conners said he wanted to hear the BRAC presentation to see what he might have to expect in the not-too-distant future.

“I’m against 22,000 people coming to the EPG,” he said. “They should be spread out. The traffic there is already terrible.”

As a resident of the new Spring Hill apartments across the street from South County Secondary School, Igancio “Nat” Arango said he and his wife wanted to find out more about their new neighborhood.

“We just moved here three months ago and we wanted to learn what we can,” he said. “We just wanted to see what this area is all about.”